Following a launch at 1:53 a.m. CST today from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the first residents to live on board the International Space Station are headed toward a Nov. 2 docking with the orbiting outpost, inaugurating a new era in space flight.
Launched atop the 162-foot tall Soyuz TM rocket, the crew is encapsulated in a Soyuz capsule where they will spend the next two days en route to the ISS.
Approximately nine minutes after lift-off the Soyuz capsule separated from the launch vehicle sending Soyuz Commander Yuri Gidzenko, Expedition 1 Commander Bill Shepherd and Flight Engineer Sergei Krikalev on their way to their new home in space. Gidzenko, Shepherd and Krikalev are in the portion of the Soyuz capsule referred to as the "descent module."
The module contains all the necessary controls and displays to allow the crew to monitor and command all critical flight activities, life support provisions, and the three personally-contoured couches they were strapped into for launch.
At the time of capsule separation, the Soyuz vehicle was in a 233 x 182 km (144 x 113 sm) orbit. Over the course of the next orbit, the crew will open the hatch to the upper module, sometimes referred to as the Habitation Module, which houses their life support systems.
In approximately 48 hours, Gidzenko will guide the capsule toward a docking with the ISS as the two vehicles fly overhead the Asian continent.
Coverage of the Expedition One crew's voyage to the ISS will continue on NASA TV and through live video streaming on the internet at spaceflight.nasa.gov. The next status report will be issued at 10 a.m. CST or sooner if events warrant.
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